Mumbai: BMC sends 600 samples for genome sequencing
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BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has planned to not leave any stone unturned to curb the surge in Covid-19 cases before the third wave hits the city. It has sent 600 samples for genome sequencing to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) in order to gauge the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus variants. Meanwhile, it is also waiting to start a genome sequencing laboratory at Kasturba Hospital.

Genome sequencing is an exercise to study the changes in the structure of the virus over time. A combination of changes in the ribonucleic acid of the virus can give birth to a new variant.

Suresh Kakani, an additional municipal commissioner, BMC, said they are taking all the necessary steps to curb the spread of the virus after the delta plus variant was found in the Mumbai sample sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) and CSIR-IGIB. “We have been sending samples of genome sequencing. Now, we have increased the number of samples from 50 per week to 100 per week. Moreover, genome sequencing will help us better understand the disease like its progression, severity, transmissibility and therapeutics,” he said.

Amidst the surge in cases across the state in March-April, the state government had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CSIR-IGIB to undertake the genome sequencing of 4,000 positive swab samples.

“It is a regular exercise for all districts to send samples for genome sequencing,” said a senior health officer from the state Health Department.

Meanwhile, health experts said genome sequencing and early detection of new variants are needed. They could provide essential information that can help better plan anti-Covid-19 containment plans. “We are now trying to procure medical equipment for emergencies. Meanwhile, the genome sequencing machine still has to be transported in a cargo aircraft due to the ongoing pandemic. Severe restrictions have been imposed on cargo ferrying in Chicago,” Kakani added.

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